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The meaning of «wgal»

WGAL, virtual and VHF digital channel 8, is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States and serving the Susquehanna Valley region (Harrisburg–Lancaster–Lebanon–York). The station is owned by the Hearst Television subsidiary of New York City-based Hearst Communications. WGAL's studios are located on Columbia Avenue (PA 462) in Lancaster Township, and its transmitter is located near US 30 north of Hallam.

The station first signed on the air on March 18, 1949, originally broadcasting on VHF channel 4.[4] It was the fourth television station in Pennsylvania and the first to sign-on outside of Philadelphia, beating WDTV (now KDKA-TV) in Pittsburgh which began operations in November of that year. It was founded by the Steinman family, owners of WGAL radio (1490 AM, now WLPA, and 101.3 FM, now WROZ) and Lancaster's two major newspapers, the Intelligencer Journal and the Lancaster New Era. At the time, Lancaster was the smallest city in the country with a television station.[citation needed] The station's first formal program was shown on March 22 to a group of RCA executives, television dealers, and radio station personnel at the Stevens House Hotel in downtown Lancaster.

WGAL was a major beneficiary of a quirk in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) plan for allocating stations. In the early days of broadcast television, there were twelve VHF channels available and 69 UHF channels (later reduced to 55 in 1983). The VHF bands were more desirable because they carried longer distances. Since there were only twelve VHF channels available, there were limitations as to how closely the stations could be spaced.

After the FCC's Sixth Report and Order ended the license freeze and opened the UHF band in 1952, it devised a plan for allocating VHF licenses. Under this plan, almost all of the country would be able to receive two commercial VHF channels plus one noncommercial channel. Most of the rest of the country ("1/2") would be able to receive a third VHF channel. Other areas would be designated as "UHF islands" since they were too close to larger cities for VHF service. The "2" networks became CBS and NBC, "+1" represented non-commercial educational stations, and "1/2" became ABC (which was the weakest network usually winding up with the UHF allocation where no VHF was available).

However, what would become the Harrisburg/Lancaster/York market was sandwiched between Philadelphia (channels 3, 6, 10, and 12) to the east, Johnstown/Altoona/State College (channels 6 and 10) to the west, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (a UHF island) to the north, and Baltimore (channels 2, 11, and 13) and Washington, D.C. (channels 4, 5, 7, and 9) to the south. This created a large "doughnut" in South Central Pennsylvania where there could be only one VHF license. Largely due to WGAL's good fortune in gaining that license, it has been the market leader for most of the time since records have been kept. During the analog era, WGAL was the only commercial VHF station in eastern Pennsylvania licensed outside of Philadelphia.

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